Northern Ireland

NI paper review: Paisley reaction and TV licence campaign

Front page of the Daily Mirror Image copyright Daily Mirror

Reaction to BBC Spotlight's programme on DUP MP Ian Paisley makes the front of two of Thursday's papers.

On Tuesday, it carried a report that a Maldivian government minister allegedly paid for a luxury holiday taken by Mr Paisley and his family.

The lead in the Belfast Telegraph carries a story focusing on the reaction of senior DUP sources to the revelations in the programme.

Inside, the story also quotes reaction from locals in Mr Paisley's constituency in Ballymena.

The paper also carries tributes to civil rights activist Ivan Cooper, who died on Wednesday after a long illness.

"He was a Protestant politician in the 1970s who loved where he came from," said actor James Nesbitt, who played him in the 2002 film Bloody Sunday.

"But was also brave enough to stand shoulder to shoulder with people of all faiths and convictions to fight for civil rights in Ireland."

The front of the News Letter takes a different slant on the BBC Spotlight revelations, focusing on its own examination of overseas trips taken by Sinn Féin.

Image copyright Science Photo Library
Image caption Ian Paisley's trips to the Maldives are under the Spotlight

Inside the paper also carries a story on calls from Alliance and Sinn Féin for a fresh investigation from the Commons' Standards Commissioner, who investigated Mr Paisley last year.

The front page of Thursday's Daily Mirror focuses on its campaign to save free TV licences for the over-75s.

The paper says 85% of senior citizens would refuse to pay the licence fee, should they be made to pay for it.

"If the Government get away with removing this benefit, next in line is going to be the winter fuel allowance, free bus passes, then free prescriptions," says Dennis Reed, director of Silver Voices, the senior citizens group which carried out the research.

Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption The BBC announced earlier this month free TV licences for up to 3.7m pensioners will be scrapped

The Irish News focuses on charges being taken in relation to an evidence session held at Stormont in 2015.

Three people are to be jointly charged with conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office.

The paper says former first minister Peter Robinson is expected to be called in the case.